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Miscellaneous Topics on Indian History
Well said amarnath. I said somethin similar in the thread on islamism, which i reproduce here

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The last 1000 years are witness that we did not loose as we survived but we did not win either as so many are still ready to elminate us, without any remorse or calm, with the same old 1000 years assumptions of us being not able to retaliate hard and fast. The pride that we did not attack any one in last 5000 years is stupid,<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Valid point. i agree that any pride in not attacking other countries is misplaced. There were definitely quite a few exceptions to this pattern, the most prominent being the expansion of the Chola empire into Indonesia, There are other counter examples of Indian rulers attacking Central Asia. HH had a note on the topic sometime ago and of course Asoka had suzerainty over vast areas of Central Asia.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>The point being there is no use being proud of something which was not true. Not true then and not true now (Goa, Bangladesh). </span>

But it can probably be said that Indians in the past did not have a global vision of conquest like Genghiz Khan. But, if that is such a lamentable failing, i ask you where are the descendants of Genghiz Khan today ?. Confined to a nondescript state far removed from the centers of power and one that has turned irrevocably Buddhist. Even the Islamic ummah is completely fractured with a large part living allegedly under Kufr domination. So are these the examples we wish to emulate.

As for not being ruthless or hard enough in victory, this is a tough one. Where do we draw the line ? Are we subliminally admiring the mutilation of live human beings that our neighbor practices and even encourages. Obviously this is done to strike terror into the minds of the enemy, just as Tamerlang and his descendant Babar erected pyramids of skulls to strike fear into the populace. Do we refuse to give decent burial to enemy soldiers as our enemy has done time and time again.

There is a larger question. In reality does it take any kind of balls to engage in destructive warfare for its own sake. I maintain that we are too analytical ( i hesitate to say intellectual, lest people get indignant at me) a people and as a civilization to give an unequivocal answer to questions such as these. Of course there are always counterexamples here too and the riots in India standout as examples of violent behavior. But I would argue again that these are not good examples for our propensity towards violent behavior, for if so we would not have amongst our midst, such a huge population of non-Hindus. So we are left with an ambiguous view of the matter and perhaps that is the best that can be said about it.
<!--QuoteBegin-Kaushal+Jun 24 2004, 10:22 AM-->QUOTE(Kaushal @ Jun 24 2004, 10:22 AM)<!--QuoteEBegin--> Well said amarnath. I said somethin similar in the thread on islamism, which i reproduce here

<!--QuoteBegin--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The last 1000 years are witness that we did not loose as we survived but we did not win either as so many are still ready to elminate us, without any remorse or calm, with the same old 1000 years assumptions of us being not able to retaliate hard and fast. The pride that we did not attack any one in last 5000 years is stupid,<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Valid point. i agree that any pride in not attacking other countries is misplaced. There were definitely quite a few exceptions to this pattern, the most prominent being the expansion of the Chola empire into Indonesia, There are other counter examples of Indian rulers attacking Central Asia. HH had a note on the topic sometime ago and of course Asoka had suzerainty over vast areas of Central Asia.

<span style='font-size:14pt;line-height:100%'>The point being there is no use being proud of something which was not true. Not true then and not true now (Goa, Bangladesh). </span>

But it can probably be said that Indians in the past did not have a global vision of conquest like Genghiz Khan. But, if that is such a lamentable failing, i ask you where are the descendants of Genghiz Khan today ?. Confined to a nondescript state far removed from the centers of power and one that has turned irrevocably Buddhist. Even the Islamic ummah is completely fractured with a large part living allegedly under Kufr domination. So are these the examples we wish to emulate.

As for not being ruthless or hard enough in victory, this is a tough one. Where do we draw the line ? Are we subliminally admiring the mutilation of live human beings that our neighbor practices and even encourages. Obviously this is done to strike terror into the minds of the enemy, just as Tamerlang and his descendant Babar erected pyramids of skulls to strike fear into the populace. Do we refuse to give decent burial to enemy soldiers as our enemy has done time and time again.

There is a larger question. In reality does it take any kind of balls to engage in destructive warfare for its own sake. I maintain that we are too analytical ( i hesitate to say intellectual, lest people get indignant at me) a people and as a civilization to give an unequivocal answer to questions such as these. Of course there are always counterexamples here too and the riots in India standout as examples of violent behavior. But I would argue again that these are not good examples for our propensity towards violent behavior, for if so we would not have amongst our midst, such a huge population of non-Hindus. So we are left with an ambiguous view of the matter and perhaps that is the best that can be said about it. <!--QuoteEnd--></div><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Bangladesh and Goa are quite different...Bangladesh was liberated in to a free country while Goa was brought back into the 'main stream'.

Most Indians lack an aggresive attitude.This directly translates into the reason for taking pride for having been victims of centuries of conquests.You see this lack of aggression is due to centuries of invasions....ah what a irony ! <!--emo&Sad--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Sure one should be proud to have survived after so many conquests and going on to assimilate the invading cultures too.I salute that.But please dont do this type of "humble hindu" stuff any more and keep those doors closed for the new invaders
. <!--emo&<_<--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/dry.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='dry.gif' /><!--endemo-->
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->But please dont do this type of "humble hindu" stuff any more and keep those doors closed for the new invaders<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

Amarnath, if you are addressing this to me, i am somewhat puzzled. In case you did not notice,I was agreeing with you.
That was to "secular" idiots kaushal
Note sure of the right thread - so posting here:
Now in my town Coimbatore , we have a quite lage number of Kammavar Naidu population(infact i am one).Read a community history book that day , which said this Kammavar(or Kamma) community traces its roots to Kakatiyars of Warangal(historically Orugall meaning one stone.) Incidentally i found the name of deity of that community being "Oraganti Ellama" , oraganta-one stone-orugall-todays warangal.

I found it very intresting.Does any one have any ideas of the Kakatiyars and Kammavars ?

I am not a caste-community maniac.But i am intrested in knowing who my forefathers actually where.
seems the link aint working acarya
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->I am not a caste-community maniac.But i am intrested in knowing who my forefathers actually where.

There is nothing to be ashamed of, when it comes your community.

Terms like "caste-maniac" are cooked by christian/muslim/secularist fools to try to lower your morale.

Our "arranged marriage" system is the best in the world. All these British fools who used to attack our customs and laugh at our community preservation instincts are themselves going to go extinct in the next 50 years. One British general proclaimed 100 years ago that Hindus whould become extinct & north India would go to islam and south India to christianity.

Now 100 years later, what do we see?
We find there are 900 million hindus and Christianity has collapsed in Britain.
Furthermore hordes of africans, muslims etc are flooding into what is left of the "mighty" british empire. So these Anglo-saxon heroes will become extinct very soon.
Gee north india to islam and south to christianity ? <!--emo&:lol:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/laugh.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='laugh.gif' /><!--endemo-->

I wonder about our marriage in the communities though.
I mean within a caste there are "n" no of groups...one group is not supposed to marry another, that i believe is said to stop weakaning the gene pool.
But few claim that , above reason has indeed weakened the gene pool.


Iranian Muslim Philosopher


Abu Raihan Mohammad Ibn Ahmad al-Biruni was one of the well-known figures associated with the court of King Mahmood Ghaznawi, who was one of the famous Muslim kings of the 11th century A.D. Al-Biruni was a versatile scholar and scientist who had equal facility in physics, metaphysics, mathematics, geography and history. Born in the city of Kheva near "Ural" in 973 A.D., he was a contemporary of the well-known physician Ibn Sina. At an early age, the fame of his scholarship went around and when Sultan Mahmood Ghaznawi conquered his homeland, he took al-Biruni along with him in his journeys to India several times and thus he had the opportunity to travel all over India during a period of 20 years. He learnt Hindu philosophy, mathematics, geography and religion from thre Pandits to whom he taught Greek and Arabic science and philosophy. He died in 1048 A.D. at the age of 75, after having spent 40 years in thus gathering knowledge and making his own original contributions to it.

<b>He recorded observations of his travels through India in his well-known book Kitab al-Hind which gives a graphic account of the historical and social conditions of the sub-continent. At the end of this book he makes a mention of having translated two Sanskrit books into Arabic, one called Sakaya, which deals with the creation of things and their types, and the second, Patanjal dealing with what happens after the spirit leaves the body. His descriptions of India were so complete that even the Aein-i-Akbari written by Abu-al- Fadal during the reign of Akbar, 600 years later, owes a great deal to al-Biruni's book. He observed that the Indus valley must be considered as an ancient sea basin filled up with alluvials.</b>
<b>On his return from India, al-Biruni wrote his famous book Qanun-i Masoodi (al-Qanun al-Masudi, fi al-Hai'a wa al-Nujum), which he dedicated to Sultan Masood. The book discusses several theorems of astronomy, trigonometry, solar, lunar, and planetary motions and relative topics. In another well-known book al-Athar al-Baqia, he has attempted a connected account of ancient history of nations and the related geographical knowledge. In this book, he has discussed the rotation of the earth and has given correct values of latitudes and longitudes of various places. He has also made considerable contribution to several aspects of physical and economic geography in this book.</b>
<b>His other scientific contributions include the accurate determination of the densities of 18 different stones. He also wrote the Kitab-al-Saidana, which is an extensive materia medica that combines the then existing Arabic knowledge on the subject with the Indian medicine. His book the Kitab-al-Jamahir deals with the properties of various precious stones. He was also an astrologer and is reputed to have astonished people by the accuracy of his predictions. He gave a clear account of Hindu numerals, elaborating the principle of position. Summation of a geometric progression appropos of the chess game led to the number:

1616° - 1 = 18,446,744,073,709,551,619.</b>
He developed a method for trisection of angle and other problems which cannot be solved with a ruler and a compass alone. Al-Biruni discussed, centuries before the rest of the world, the question whether the earth rotates around its axis or not. He was the first to undertake experiments related to astronomical phenomena. His scientific method, taken together with that of other Muslim scien- tists, such as Ibn al-Haitham, laid down the early foundation of modern science. He ascertained that as compared with the speed of sound the speed of light is immense. He explained the working of natural springs and artesian wells by the hydrostatic principle of communicating vessels. His investigations included description of various monstrosities, including that known as "Siamese" twins. He observed that flowers have 3,4,5,6, or 18 petals, but never 7 or 9.

He wrote a number of books and treatises. Apart from Kitab-al- Hind (History and Geography of India), al-Qanun al-Masudi (Astronomy, Trigonometry), al-Athar al-Baqia (Ancient History and Geography), Kitab al-Saidana (Materia Medica) and Kitab al-Jawahir (Precious Stones) as mentioned above, his book al-Tafhim-li-Awail Sina'at al-Tanjim gives a summary of mathematics and astronomy.

<b>He has been considered as one of the very greatest scientists of Islam, and, all considered, one of the greatest of all times</b>. His critical spirit, love of truth, and scientific approach were combined with a sense of toleration. His enthusiasm for knowledge may be judged from his claim that the phrase Allah is Omniscient does not justify ignorance.

Has any one here read "Babur Nama" ?
I happened to read some book a few days back
which portrays Babur as a very tolerant towards
hindusin general and that he arranged translations
of many sanskirt works to persian ?
Infact Babur is projected as comparable to
ashoka, harsha et all <!--emo&:unsure:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/unsure.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='unsure.gif' /><!--endemo-->

An general attempt was made in the book to
project Mughals as "OK good" rulers of India
It says that Aurangazeb of the Mughal dynasty
was the only king who suppressed Hindus and
destroyed temples.

Also the book claims Humayun was a berry berry
tolerant chum and overall has put me into a

Book also tells about Taimur.Who killed nearly
1,00,000 "infidels" <!--emo&:angry:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/mad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='mad.gif' /><!--endemo--> in one night.
Pioneer has an article on the Khirki Masjid near Delhi. There is a quote "Firuz Shah Tughluq's reign saw the construction of several large mosques in Delhi. <b>Khan-i-Jahan Junan Shah, who was a Hindu convert, became Prime Minister of Firuz Shah</b> and he is credited with the construction of the seven mosques, one of which is the Khirki Masjid. "

What is known about this Junan Shah? Was he from Deccan and did he later become Governor of Multan?

The history of hindu civilization goes beyond and is coterminus with
the yajna and is exemplified by the mleccha of Sarasvati civilization.
It is found in the vrata traditions also mentioned in the R.gveda. An
unraveling of the janapada-s will be an unraveling of the sa_nkhya of
kapila. Here are a few glimpses, in two parts, which have to be
coherently and chronologically re-told in a re-write of the history of
dharma in action.


Adivasi Contributions to Indian Culture and Civilization

Adivasi traditions and practices pervade all aspects of Indian culture
and civilization, yet this awareness is often lacking in popular
consciousness, and the extent and import of Adivasi contributions to
Indian philosophy, language and custom have often gone unrecognized,
or been underrated by historians and social scientists.

Although popular myths about Buddhism have obscured the original
source and inspiration for it's humanist doctrine, it is to India's
ancient tribal (or Adivasi) societies that Gautam Buddha looked for a
model for the kind of society he wished to advocate. Repulsed by how
greed for private property was instrumental in causing poverty,
social exploitation and unending warfare - he saw hope for human
society in the tribal republics that had not yet come under the sway
of authoritarian rule and caste discrimination. The early Buddhist
Sanghas were modelled on the tribal pattern of social interaction that
stressed gender equality, and respect for all members. Members of the
Sanghas sought to emulate their egalitarian outlook and democratic

At that time, the tribal republics retained many aspects of social
equality that can still be found in some Adivasi societies that have
somehow escaped the ill-effects of commercial plunder and
exploitation. Adivasi society was built on a foundation of equality
with respect for all life forms including plants and trees. There was
a deep recognition of mutual dependence in nature and human society.
People were given respect and status according to their contribution
to social needs but only while they were performing that particular
function. A priest could be treated with great respect during a
religious ceremony or a doctor revered during a medical consultation,
but once such duties had been performed, the priest or doctor became
equal to everyone else. The possession of highly valued skills or
knowledge did not lead to a permanent rise in status. This meant that
no individual or small group could engage in overlordship of any
kind, or enjoy hereditary rights.

Such a value-system was sustainable as long as the Adivasi community
was non-acquisitive and all the products of society were shared.
Although division of labor did take place, the work of society was
performed on a cooperative and co-equal basis - without prejudice or
disrespect for any form of work.

It was the simplicity, the love of nature, the absence of coveting
the goods and wealth of others, and the social harmony of tribal
society that attracted Gautam Buddha, and had a profound impact on the
ethical core of his teachings.

(To this day, sharing is a vital and integral part of the philosophy
of the Mullakurumba Adivasis of South India. When the Mullakurumbas go
hunting a share is given to every family in the village, even those
who may be absent, sick or cannot participate for any other reason. An
extra portion is added for any guest in the village and even a
non-tribal passersby will be offered a share. Not sharing is something
they find difficult to comprehend.)

Nevertheless, tribal societies were under constant pressure as the
money economy grew and made traditional forms of barter less difficult
to sustain. In matters of trade, the Adivasis followed a highly
evolved system of honour. All agreements that they entered into were
honoured, often the entire tribe chipping in to honor an agreement
made by an individual member of the tribe. Individual dishonesty or
deceit were punished severely by the tribe. An individual who acted in
a manner that violated the honor of the tribe faced potential
banishment and family members lost the right to participate in
community events during the period of punishment. But often, tribal
integrity was undermined because the non-tribals who traded with the
Adivasis reneged on their promises and took advantage of the sincerity
and honesty of most members of the tribe.

Tribal societies came under stress due to several factors. The
extension of commerce, military incursions on tribal land, and the
resettling of Brahmins amidst tribal populations had an impact, as
did ideological coercion or persuasion to attract key members of the
tribe into "mainstream" Hindu society. This led to many tribal
communities becoming integrated into Hindu society as jatis (or
castes) while others who resisted were pushed into the hilly or
forested areas, or remote tracks that had not yet been settled. In the
worst case, defeated Adivasi tribes were pushed to the margins of
settled society and became discriminated as outcastes and

But spontaneous differentiation within tribal societies also took
place over time, which propelled these now unequal tribal communities
into integrating into Hindu society without external violence or
coercion. In Central India, ruling dynasties emerged from within the
ranks of tribal society.

In any case, the end result was that throughout India, tribal deities
and customs, creation myths and a variety of religious rites and
ceremonies came to absorbed into the broad stream of "Hindu" society.
In the Adivasi traditions, ancestor worship, worship of fertility gods
and goddesses (as well as male and female fertility symbols), totemic
worship - all played a role. And they all found their way into the
practice of what is now considered Hinduism. The widespread Indian
practice of keeping 'vratas', i.e. fasting for wish-fulfillment or
moral cleansing also has Adivasi origins

Mahashweta Devi has shown that both Shiva and Kali have tribal origins
as do Krishna and Ganesh. In the 8th century, the tribal forest
goddess or harvest goddess was absorbed and adapted as Siva's wife.
Ganesh owes it's origins to a powerful tribe of elephant trainers
whose incorporation into Hindu society was achieved through the
deification of their elephant totem. In his study of Brahmin lineages
in Maharashtra, Kosambi points to how many Brahmin gotras (such as
Kashyapa) arose from tribal totems such as Kachhapa (tortoise). In
Rajasthan, Rajput rulers recognised the Adivasi Bhil chiefs as allies
and Bhils acquired a central role in some Rajput coronation

India's regional languages such as Oriya, Marathi or Bengali developed
as a result of the fusion of tribal languages with Sanskrit or Pali
and virtually all the Indian languages have incorporated words from
the vocabulary of Adivasi languages.

Adivasis who developed an intimate knowledge of various plants and
their medicinal uses played an invaluable role in the development of
Ayurvedic medicines. In a recent study, the All India Coordinated
Research Project credits Adivasi communities with the knowledge of
9000 plant species - 7500 used for human healing and veterinary health
care. Dental care products like datun, roots and condiments like
turmeric used in cooking and ointments are also Adivasi discoveries,
as are many fruit trees and vines. Ayurvedic cures for arthritis and
night blindness owe their origin to Adivasi knowledge.

Adivasis also played an important role in the development of
agricultural practices - such as rotational cropping, fertility
maintenance through alternating the cultivation of grains with leaving
land fallow or using it for pasture. Adivasis of Orissa were
instrumental in developing a variety of strains of rice.

Adivasi musical instruments such as the bansuri (flute) and dhol
(drum), folk-tales, dances and seasonal celebrations also found their
way into Indian traditions as did their art and metallurgical skills.

In India's central belt, Adivasi communities rose to considerable
prominence and developed their own ruling clans. The earliest Gond
kingdom appears to date from the 10th C and the Gond Rajas were able
to maintain a relatively independent existence until the 18th C.,
although they were compelled to offer nominal allegiance to the Mughal
empire. The Garha-Mandla kingdom in the north extended control over
most of the upper Narmada valley and the adjacent forest areas. The
Deogarh-Nagpur kingdom dominated much of the upper Wainganga valley,
while Chanda-Sirpur in the south consisted of territory around Wardha
and the confluences of the Wainganga with the Penganga.

Jabalpur was one of the major centers of the Garha-Mandla kingdom and
like other major dynastic capitals had a large fort and palace.
Temples and palaces with extremely fine carvings and erotic sculptures
came up throughout the Gond kingdoms. The Gond ruling clans enjoyed
close ties with the Chandella ruling clans and both dynasties
attempted to maintain their independence from Mughal rule through
tactical alliances. Rani Durgavati of Jabalpur (of Chandella-Gond
heritage) acquired a reputation of legendary proportions when she died
in battle defending against Mughal incursions. The city of Nagpur was
founded by a Gond Raja in the early 18th century.

Adivasis and the Freedom Movement

As soon as the British took over Eastern India tribal revolts broke
out to challenge alien rule. In the early years of colonization, no
other community in India offered such heroic resistance to British
rule or faced such tragic consequences as did the numerous Adivasi
communities of now Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh, Orissa and Bengal. In 1772,
the Paharia revolt broke out which was followed by a five year
uprising led by Tilka Manjhi who was hanged in Bhagalpur in 1785. The
Tamar and Munda revolts followed. In the next two decades, revolts
took place in Singhbhum, Gumla, Birbhum, Bankura, Manbhoom and
Palamau, followed by the great Kol Risings of 1832 and the Khewar and
Bhumij revolts (1832-34). In 1855, the Santhals waged war against the
permanent settlement of Lord Cornwallis, and a year later, numerous
adivasi leaders played key roles in the 1857 war of independence.

But the defeat of 1858 only intensified British exploitation of
national wealth and resources. A forest regulation passed in 1865
empowered the British government to declare any land covered with
trees or brushwood as government forest and to make rules to manage it
under terms of it's own choosing. The act made no provision regarding
the rights of the Adivasi users. A more comprehensive Indian Forest
Act was passed in 1878, which imposed severe restrictions upon Adivasi
rights over forest land and produce in the protected and reserved
forests. The act radically changed the nature of the traditional
common property of the Adivasi communities and made it state property.

As punishment for Adivasi resistance to British rule, "The Criminal
Tribes Act" was passed by the British Government in 1871 arbitrarily
stigmatizing groups such as the Adivasis (who were perceived as most
hostile to British interests) as congenital criminals.

Adivasi uprisings in the Jharkhand belt were quelled by the British
through massive deployment of troops across the region. The Kherwar
uprising and the Birsa Munda movement were the most important of the
late-18th century struggles against British rule and their local
agents. The long struggle led by Birsa Munda was directed at British
policies that allowed the zamindars (landowners) and money-lenders to
harshly exploit the Adivasis. In 1914 Jatra Oraon started what is
called the Tana Movement (which drew the participation of over 25,500
Adivasis). The Tana movement joined the nation-wide Satyagrah Movement
in 1920 and stopped the payment of land-taxes to the colonial

During British rule, several revolts also took place in Orissa which
naturally drew participation from the Adivasis. The significant ones
included the Paik Rebellion of 1817, the Ghumsar uprisings of
1836-1856, and the Sambhalpur revolt of 1857-1864.

In the hill tribal tracts of Andhra Pradesh a revolt broke out in
August 1922. Led by Alluri Ramachandra Raju (better known as Sitarama
Raju), the Adivasis of the Andhra hills succeeded in drawing the
British into a full-scale guerrilla war. Unable to cope, the British
brought in the Malabar Special Force to crush it and only prevailed
when Alluri Raju died.

As the freedom movement widened, it drew Adivasis into all aspects of
the struggle. Many landless and deeply oppressed Adivasis joined in
with upper-caste freedom fighters expecting that the defeat of the
British would usher in a new democratic era.

Unfortunately, even fifty years after independence, Dalits and
Adivasis have benefited least from the advent of freedom. Although
independence has brought widespread gains for the vast majority of the
Indian population, Dalits and Adivasis have often been left out, and
new problems have arisen for the nation's Adivasi populations. With
the tripling of the population since 1947, pressures on land
resources, especially demands on forested tracks, mines and water
resources have played havoc on the lives of the Adivasis. A
disproportionate number of Adivasis have been displaced from their
traditional lands while many have seen access to traditional resources
undercut by forest mafias and corrupt officials who have signed
irregular commercial leases that conflict with rights granted to the
Adivasis by the Indian constitution.

It remains to be seen if the the grant of statehood for Jharkhand and
Chhatisgarh ameliorates the conditions for India's Adivasis. However,
it is imperative that all Adivasi districts receive special attention
from the Central government in terms of investment in schools,
research institutes, participatory forest management and preservation
schemes, non-polluting industries, and opportunities for the Adivasi
communities to document and preserve their rich heritage. Adivasis
must have special access to educational, cultural and economic
opportunities so as to reverse the effects of colonization and earlier
injustices experienced by the Adivasi communities.

At the same time, the country can learn much from the beauty of
Adivasi social practices, their culture of sharing and respect for all
- their deep humility and love of nature - and most of all - their
deep devotion to social equality and civic harmony.


1. What is Living and What is Dead in Indian Philosophy - Debiprasad
1b. Stcherbasky: Buddhist Logic (New York, 1962), Papers of
Stcherbasky - (Calcutta - 1969,71)

2. The Indian Historical Review, Vol. 16:1,2 Baidyanath Saraswati's
review of P.K Maity, Folk-Rituals of Eastern India

3. Bulletins of the ICHR (Indian Council of Historical Research)

4. Studies in the History of Science in India (Edited by Debiprasad

5. Adivasi: A symbiotic Bond - Mari and Stan Thekaekara (Hindu Folio,
July 16, 2000)

Note: The term Adivasi has been used broadly to represent those
classified as Scheduled Tribe under the Indian constitution. Roughly
speaking, the term translates as aboriginal or native people (or
native dwellers).

Some Dalit activists now prefer to also be characterized as Adivasis.
Others seek to bring all of India's oppressed groupings under the
'Bahujan Samaj' umbrella. While the term Harijan is largely out of
favour, there are some who simply identify with the government
designated terms ST (scheduled tribe) and SC (scheduled caste).

Although, districts with large Adivasi populations are to be found
almost throughout India, the majority of India's Adivasis hail from
Jharkhand, Chhatisgarh and Orissa. Tripura, Arunachal, Manipur,
Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland also have large Adivasi populations.
There are also districts in Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat,
Maharashtra, Andhra and Tamil Nadu with sizeable Adivasi populations.


Unsung Heroes of the Indian Freedom Struggle (1763-1856)
(A Brief Summary)

While much has been written on the Indian Freedom Movement as led by
the Congress and Gandhi, little is known of the numerous uprisings by
peasants, tribal communities, princely states and other isolated
revolutionary acts of resistance against the British. Heroic acts of
resistance against the British during1763 to 1857 are almost unknown.
The following is a listing of armed revolts that were brutally
suppressed by the British as the East Indian Company consolidated it's
rule in the century preceding the 1857 revolt:-

Sanyal Revolt : 1763-1800

Dhaka: 1763

Rajshahi: 1763-4

Cooch Bihar: 1766

Patna: 1767

Jalpaiguri, Rangpur and surroundings: 1766-69, 1771, 1776

Purnea: 1770-71

Mymensingh: 1773

Midnapur: 1766-7

Dhalbhum Rajas: 1766-7

Peasant's Revolt, Tripura: 1766-8

(led by Shamsher Ghazi in Roshanabad)

Sandip Islands: 1769-70

(S. of Noakhali)

Moamarias, Jorhat/Rangpur: 1769-99

Chakmas, Chittagong: 1776-89

Gorakhpur, Basti and Bahraich: 1781

Rangpur Peasants: 1783

Sylhet: 1787-99

Radharam: 1787

Khasi revolt: 1788

Agha Muhammad Reza: 1799

Birbhum, Bishnupur: 1788-9

Bakarganj Peasants: 1792

Vizianagram: 1794

Poligars Uprising: 1795-1805

included Tinnevelly, Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Sivagiri, Madurai, N. Arcot

Chuar Peasants, Midnapur: 1799

Bednur: 1799-1800

Vaji Ali, Awadh: 1799

Ganjam, Gumsur: 1800, 1835-7

Palamau: 1800-2

Vellore Mutiny: 1806

Bhiwani: 1809

Naik Revolt: 1810-16

(in Bhograi, Midnapur)

Travancore: 1808-9

(under Velu Thambi)

Bundelkhand Chiefs: 1808-12

Abdul Rahman, Surat: 1810

Benaras Hartal/Agitation: 1810-11

Parlakimedi, W. Ganjam: 1813-34

Kutch: 1815-32

Rohilla Revolt: 1816

(included Bareilly, Pilbhit, Shahjahanpur, Rampur)

Hathras: 1817

Paiks: 1817-18

(included Cuttack, Khurda, Pipli, Puri)

Bhils: 1817-31, 1846, 1852

(included Khandesh, Dhar, Malwa)

Kols: 1820-37

(included Sighbhum, Chota Nagpur, Sambhalpur, Ranchi, Hazari Bagh,
Palamau, Chaibasa)

Mers, Marwar 1819-21

Gujars, Kunja: 1824

Sindgi, Bijapur: 1824

Bhiwani, Rewari, Hissar, Rohtak: 1824-26

Kalpi: 1824

Kittur, Belgaum: 1824-29

Kolis: 1828-30, 39, 1844-48

Ramosis, Pune: 1826-29

Garos: 1825-27, 1832-34

(Also known as the Pagal Panthis Revolt - in Sherpur, Mymensigh distt.)

Assam: 1828-30

(included Gadadhar Singh 1828-30, Kumar Rupchand 1830)

Khasis: 1829-33

(led by Tirot Singh)

Sighphos: 1830-31, 43

(Assam/Burma border)

Akas: 1829, 1835-42


Wahabis: 1830-61

(spread from Bengal, Bihar to Punjab and NWFP)

Titu-Mir, 24-Parganas: 1831

Mysore Peasants: 1830-31

Vishakapatnam: 1830-33

Bhumij, Manbhum: 1832

Coorg: 1833-4

Gonds, Sambhalpur: 1833

Naikda, Rewa, Kantha: 1838

Farazis, Faripur: 1838-47

Khamtas, Sadiya-Assam: 1839

Surendra Sai, Sambhalpur: 1839-62

Badami: 1840

Bundelas, Sagar: 1842

Salt Riots, Surat: 1844

Gadkari, Kolhapur: 1844

Savantvadi, N. Konkan: 1844-59

Narasimha Reddy, Kurnool: 1846-7

Khonds, Orissa: 1848

Nagpur: 1848

Garos, Garo Hills: 1848-66

Abors, NE Hills: 1848-1900

Lushais, Lushai Hills: 1840-92

Nagas: Naga Hills: 1849-78

Umarzais: Bannu: 1850-2

Survey Riots: Khandesh: 1852

Saiyads of Hazara: 1852

Nadir Khan, Rawalpindi: 1853

Santhals: 1855-6

(included Rajmahal, Bhagalpur, Birbhum)

These revolts show how widespread the opposition to British colonial
rule was. Though fragmented, this opposition eventually crystallized
into a more sweeping and cohesive force that would eventually lead to
1857 - which provided a brief and faint glimmer of freedom that would
not be won untill almost a century later.


The History of Orissa: An Introduction

The history of Orissa makes an interesting case-study in that it's
history is in many ways atypical from that of the northern plains and
many of the common generalizations that are made about Indian history
do not seem to apply to the Oriya region.

The word Oriya is an anglicised version of Odia which itself is a
modern name for the Odra or Udra tribes that inhabited the central
belt of modern Orissa. Orissa has also been the home of the Kalinga
and Utkal tribes that played a particularly prominent role in the
region's history, and one of the earliest references to the ancient
Kalingas appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th C.
BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the
Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched
the land. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and
traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures
and cultural practices right up to the 15th C. when Brahminical
influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste
differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had
survived of the ancient republican tradition.


Very early in Kalingan history, the Kalingas acquired a reputation for
being a fiercely independant people. Ashoka's military campaign
against Kalinga was one of the bloodiest in Mauryan history on account
of the fearless and heroic resistance offered by the Kalingas to the
mighty armies of the expanding Mauryan empire. Perhaps on account of
their unexpected bravery, emperor Ashoka was compelled to issue two
edicts specifically calling for a just and benign administration in

Unsurprisingly, Mauryan rule over Kalinga did not last long. By the
1st C. BC, Kalinga's Jain identified ruler Kharavela had become the
pre-eminent monarch of much of the sub-continent and Mauryan Magadha
had become a province of the Kalingan empire. The earliest surviving
monuments of Orissa (in Udaigiri near Bhubaneshwar) date from his
reign, and surviving inscriptions mention that Prince Kharavela was
trained not only in the military arts, but also in literature,
mathematics, and the social sciences. He was also reputed to be a
great patron of the arts and was credited with encouraging dance and
theater in his capital.

Although the bravery of the Kalingas became legendary, and finds
mention in the Sahitya Darpan, it is important to note that a
hereditary warrior caste like the Kshatriyas did not take hold in the
region. Soldiers were drawn from the peasantry as needed and rank in
the military depended as much on fighting skills and bravery as on
hereditary factors. In this (and other) respects, Oriya history
resembles more the history of the nations of South East Asia, and may
have been one of the features of Oriya society that allowed it to
successfully fend off 300 years of raids initiated by numerous Islamic
rulers untill the 16th century.

Metallurgy, Crafts and Trade

Owing to it's vast mineral resources, metallurgy developed quite
naturally in ancient Orissa and may have been an additional factor in
catapulting the region to considerable importance during the iron age.
Iron tools were used in agricultural production, digging irrigation
canals, stone-quarrying, cave excavation and later monumental
architecture. Rice cultivation got a particular fillip and during the
iron age irrigation works from Orissa spread to the regions of
ancient Andhra and Tamil Nadu around 300 BC (See M.S. Randhawa: A
history of agriculture in India, Vol. 1. New Delhi.) Orissa also
became a major steel producing centre and steel beams were extensively
used in the monumental temples of Bhubaneshwar and Puri.

Being a coastal region, maritime trade played an important role in the
development of Oriya civilization. Cultural, commercial and political
contacts with South East Asia, particularly Southern Burma, Malaysia
and Indonesia were especially extensive and maritime enterprises play
an interesting part in Oriya folk-tales and poetry. Historical records
suggest that around the 7th C. AD, the Kongoda dynasty from central
Orissa may have migrated to Malaysia and Indonesia. There is also
evidence of exchange of embassies with China. Records of Oriya traders
being active in the ports of South East Asia are fairly numerous and
in his descriptions of Malacca, Portuguese merchant Tome Pires
indicates that traders from Orissa were active in the busy port as
late as the 16th C.

(There is evidence to suggest that trade contact between Eastern India
and Thailand may date as far back as the 3rd or 4th C BC. Himanshu
Ray (The Winds of Change - Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early
South Asia) suggests that at least eight oceanic routes linked the
Eastern Coast of India with the Malayan pensinsula, and after the Iron
Age, metals (such as iron, copper and tin), cotton textiles and
foodstuffs comprised the trade. She also suggests that the trade
involved both Indian and Malayo-Polynesian ships. Archealogical
evidence from Sisupalgarh (near Bhubaneshwar) in Orissa suggests that
there may also have been direct or indirect trade contacts between
ancient Orissa and Rome dating to the 1st-2nd C AD (or possibly
earlier). The chronicles of Huen Tsang refer to Orissa's overseas
contacts in the 7th C, and by the 10th C, records of Orissa's trade
with the East begin to proliferate.)

Adequate agricultural production combined with a flourishing maritime
trade contributed to a flowering of Orissan arts and crafts especially
textiles. Numerous communities of weavers and dyers became active
throughout the state perfecting techniques like weaving of fine
Muslins, Ikat, Sambalpuri and Bomkai silks and cottons, applique and
embroidery. Orissa was also known for it's brass and bell metal work,
lacquered boxes and toys, intricate ivory, wood and stone carvings,
patta painting and palm leaf engraving, basket weaving and numerous
other colorful crafts. Often, decorative techniques relied on folk
idioms as in the painted, circular playing cards known as Ganjifas.

Later, Cuttack became the centre for lace-like exquisite silver
filigree work, (known as Tarakashi) when Orissa was brought under
Mughal rule.

Philosophy, Language and Idealogy

Both Buddhism and Jainism played an important role in the cultural and
philosophical developments of early Oriya civilization. Most
Buddhist and Jain texts were written in Pali-Prakrit and the Prakrita
Sarvasva, a celebrated Prakrit grammar text was authored by Markandeya
Das, an Oriya. Kharavela's Hatigumpha inscription is in Pali, leading
to the speculation that Pali may have been the original language of
the Oriya people.

By the 7th C. AD, Brahminism had also become influential, especially
in the courts and Hiuen Tsang (the well-known Chinese chronicler)
observed how Buddhist Viharas and Brahminic temples flourished side by
side. And although royal inscriptions of this time were in Sanskrit,
the most commonly spoken language was not, and according to Hiuen
Tsang appeared to be quite distinct from the language of Central
India, and may have been a precursor of modern day Oriya.

But even as the Bhauma Kings of the 6th-8th C issued edicts in
Sanskrit, they patronized numerous Buddhist institutions and the art,
architecture and poetry of the period reflected the popularity of
Buddhism in the region.

Later, Orissa's Buddhism came to be modulated by strong Tantric
influences, while a more traditional Vedic and Brahminical version of
Hinduism was brought to Orissa by Brahmins from Kannauj. Shaivism from
the South was institutionalized in Puri. In addition, the majority of
Orissa's adivasis continued to practice some form of animism and
totem-worship. Unifying all these different traditions was the
Shiva-Shakti cult which evolved from an amalgamation of Shaivism
(worship of Shiva), Shaktism (worship of the Mother Goddess) and the
Vajrayana, or Tantric form of Mahayana Buddism.

What made possible this fusion was that apart from the formal
distinctions that separated these different religious and
philosophical trends, in practical matters, there was a growing
similiarity between them. Whereas early Buddhism and the Nyaya school
within Hinduism had laid considerable stress on rationalism and
scientific investigation of nature, later Buddhism and the Shaivite
schools both emphasized philosphical variants of concepts first
developed in the Upanishads, along with mysticism and devotion.
Tantrism had also developed along a dual track - on the one hand it
had laid emphasis on gaining practical knowledge and a clear
understanding of nature - on the other, it too came steeped in
mysticism and magic.

At the same time, the Buddhist ethos had created an environment where
compromise was preferred to confrontation. This allowed tribal deities
and gods and goddesses associated with numerous fertility cults to be
integrated into the Hindu pantheon. Tantric constructs also met with
some degree of approval.

Since Tantrism emphasized the erotic as a means to spiritual
salvation, the culture of austerity and sexual abstinence that had
pervaded early Buddhism was replaced with an unapologetic embrace of
all that was erotic.

Unlike some other parts of India, Oriya society had not yet been
deeply differentiated by caste, and egalitarian values remained
well-ingrained amongst the peasant masses. Hence, any idealogy that
championed a hierarchical division of society would have been
unacceptable. The Shiva Shakti cult was a compromise in that while it
did not exclude social inequality, it did not preclude social mobility
either. In fact, the cult became popular precisely because it
articulated the possibility of upward mobility through the acquisition
of knowledge, skill or energetic personal effort.

Yogini Cults

Tantric influences were of particular import for the survival of the
Yogini cults in Orissa. The Yogini cults concentrated on worship of
the shakti (female life force), with a belief in the efficacy of magic
ritual. In ancient texts, Yoginis are depicted as consorts of Yogis,
and like their male companions practiced yoga to gain mastery over
science and acquire magical powers. Some tantric schools associated
with the Yogini cults such as the Kaula Marga prescribed Maithuna
(sexual intercourse) with outcast women or women of low caste as the
most consummate soul-lifting experience. Although Yogini cults were
not unique to Orissa, two out of four surviving Yogini temples are to
be found in Hirapur and Ranipur-Jharial.

The Hirapur temple is ascribed to the Bhauma and Somavansi rulers of
Orissa (mid 8th - mid 10th C. AD) who were known for their eclectic
liberalism and noted for their patronage of philosophy, art,
architecture and literature.

Popular Literature

While the literature of the court and the intelligentsia was primarily
written in Sanskrit, and included a variety of commentaries and
theoretical treatises on religion, politics, art and literature as
well as reworks of the epics, popular literature in Oriya initially
focused on folk tales, ballades, creation myths, devotional songs,
love poetry and erotica.

But in the 15th century, the Gangas who were patrons of many of
Orissa's monumental temples were defeated by Kapilendra Deva, who rose
from the ranks to found the Surya dynasty. It was in his reign that
Sarala Das wrote a popular Oriya version of the Mahabharatha. Sarala
Das arose from a peasant family and took his name from the goddess
Sarala who was worshipped in his village in the district of Cuttack.
He described himself as an unschooled 'Shudra' and became popularly
known as Shudra-muni. Although the broad themes his Mahabharatha match
other traditional versions, there is much that was original and
written with a popular sensibility. His version knitted in local folk
tales and ballads, and incorporated the ethical and moral values then
embraced by the artisan class and peasantry.

The Chandi Purana, also written by Sarala Das referred to Yoginis as
forms of the Devi or the Supreme Goddess illustrating the continued
popular appeal of the Yogini cults in Orissa's coastal belt.

Thus what emerged in Orissa from the 9th century on was a heady
cocktail of mystical and practical currents that allowed for a certain
degree of social mobility and provided space for ordinary peasants to
make contributions to popular literature and poetry.

This stimulated the popularity of reading and since there were no
taboos against learning Oriya, literacy spread in the villages and
such popular literature developed a wide mass following. A network of
village libraries housed popular texts in neatly transcribed
versions. Illuminated manuscripts and illustrated epics also became
popular. By some accounts, literacy in many villages reached 40% or
more before the onslaught of colonial rule.

Decline of Oriya Civilization

The first signsof decline in Oriya society came as the administrators
of the Ganga and Surya kings began to usurp undue privileges and
acquire a greater number of hereditary rights. At the same time,
religious affairs began to be dominated by the Puri Brahmins who were
instrumental in promoting ever increasing ritual and unprecedented
ceremonial pomp during religious festivals. Tribal deities were slowly
edged out as Brahminical gods acquired supremacy. Social mobility
declined and the first concrete appearances of a formalized caste
system began to appear. The Patnaiks, Mahapatras, Nayakas and others
who had played a major role in the royal adminstration, along with the
Brahmins comprised the upper-caste elite as social stratification

The silting up of Orissa's major rivers in the 16th C. led to a severe
decline in maritime trade and may have further aggravated socially
regressive trends. Orissa also suffered decisive defeats at the
hands of Raja Man Singh (Akbar's military general) and the Marathas,
leaving it dismembered and particularly vulnerable against the British
who colonized it soon after the victory in Bengal.

Orissa during Colonial Rule
Like much of India, colonial rule had a devastating impact on the
economic and social life of the Oriya people. Numerous categories of
crafts workers, especially weavers and dyers were bankrupted and
reduced to abject poverty. The peasantry suffered under the burden of
back-breaking taxes and forced unpaid labour. But the Oriyas did not
accept subjugation without putting up heroic resistance. Just three
years after British occupation, Jayakrishna Rajguru - hereditary
priest of the Gajapatis (or the Rajas of Khurda) organized a revolt
that ended in tragic defeat and his public hanging at the hands of the
British. In 1818 there was another revolt when the entire state rose
up under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Vidyadhara of Khurda. For
six months the people of Southern Orissa were practically freed from
British rule but in the end the rebellion was ruthlessly quelled and
the aftermath was to be disastrous.

The nobility was systematically decimated, the Paikas - the national
militia were disarmed and disinherited, and the peasantry already
reduced to virtual slavery. All administrative posts not directly
handled by the British were assigned to Bengalis who were perceived to
be more loyal to British rule. From local police constables to
assistant school teachers - Bengalis were hired but Oriyas excluded.
Bengali chauvinists in Calcutta defended such a regime, some even
going to the extent of demanding that all Oriyas be taught in Bengali
since Oriya was nothing but a minor dialect of Bengali.

Even as urban Bengal received a few concessions like the founding of
universities and cultural societies - Orissa was reduced to a minor
outpost of the colonial empire - a cultural wasteland. Orissa's future
was now inextricably linked to the growth of the national struggle in
Bengal and the rest of the country, and any hint of growth in the
national movement naturally drew enthusiastic support from
nationalist-minded Oriyas.

Although independence brought about dramatic improvements in the lives
of all sections of the population, two centuries of damage wrought by
colonial rule could not be easily undone after independence. As
evident from recent census results, high levels of poverty and
illiteracy continue to dog the state.

For Orissa to regain it's ancient vitality, it will require not only
greater sympathy from other Indians but a conscious programme of
affirmative action from the centre that promotes mass education and
employment opportunities so that Orissa can fully join the Indian
mainstream as a vibrant and equal member of the Indian union.

Note: References to ancient Orissa may well include parts of
Jharkhand, Southern Bengal, Chhatisgarh and Northern Andhra - which at
various times were politically integrated into the different kingdoms
of ancient and medieval Orissa.


1. History of Oriya Literature: Mayadhar Mansinha (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi)

2. Bulletins of the Indian Historical Review (Indian Council of
Historical Research) and issues of Social Science Probings (Ed. R. S.


Although the courtly culture of the Mughal rulers of the Indian
subcontinent is the most well known, a cosmopolitan outlook was not
new to India; several sources point to a thriving system of
international trade that linked the ports of Southern India with those
of Ancient Rome. The chronicles of the Greek Periplus reveal that
Indian exports included a variety of spices, aromatics, quality
textiles (muslins and cottons), ivory, high quality iron and gems.
Considered items of luxury in those days, these were in high demand.
While a good portion of Indo-Roman trade was reciprocal, (Rome
supplying exotic items such as cut-gems, coral, wine, perfumes,
papyrus, copper, tin and lead ingots), the trade balance was
considerably weighted in India's favor. The balance of payments had to
be met in precious metals, either gold or silver coinage, or other
valuables like red coral (i.e. the hard currency of the ancient
world). India was particularly renowned for its ivory work and its
fine muslins (known in Roman literature as 'woven air'). However,
these items must have been quite expensive since the Roman writer
Pliny (AD 23-79) complained of the cost of these and other luxury
commodities that were imported from India. "Not a year passed in which
India did not take fifty million sesterces away from Rome", wrote
Pliny. This trade surplus gave rise to prosperous urban centres that
were linked to an extensive network of internal trade. Literary
records from that period paint a picture of abundance and splendour .
The Silappathikaarum (The Ankle Bracelet), a Tamil romance (roughly
dated to the late second century AD), provides a glimpse of the
maritime wealth of the cosmopolitan cities of South India. Set in the
prosperous port city of Puhar (Kaveripattanam), the story refers to
ship owners described as having riches 'the envy of foreign kings'.
Puhar is portrayed as a city populated by enterpreneurial merchants
and traders, where trade was well regulated: "The city of Puhar
possessed a spacious forum for storing bales of merchandise, with
markings showing the quantity, weight, and name of the owner." The
Silappathikaarum suggests that the markets offered a great variety of
precious commodities prized in the ancient world. Special streets were
earmarked for merchants that traded in items such as coral,
sandalwood, jewellery, faultless pearls, pure gold, and precious gems.
Skilled craftspeople brought their finished goods such as fine silks,
woven fabrics, and luxurious ivory carvings. Archealogical finds of
spectacular burial jewellery in southern India appear to corroborate
such accounts. Northern India also had its flourishing urban centres.
This can be inferred from descriptions of an archealogical site in
ancient Taxila. Vladimir Zwalf (in Jewelry, 7000 years - Hugh Tait,
Editor) notes: "The site has yielded magnificent and well-preserved
gold jewellery, notably necklaces, ear-pendants and finger-rings,
characterised by a mastery of granulation and inlay." While most
ornaments from that period have not survived, sculpture from several
sites shows heavy adornment. Patliputra (now Patna) during the Mauryan
period was described by travellers as one of the grandest cities of
that period.


The antiquity of Indian textile exports can be established from the
records of the Greek geographer Strabo (63 BC - AD 20) and from the
first century Greek source Periplus, which mentions the Gujarati port
of Barygaza, (Broach) as exporting a variety of textiles.
Archaeological evidence from Mohenjo-Daro, establishes that the
complex technology of mordant dyeing had been known in the
subcontinent from at least the second millennium B C. The use of
printing blocks in India may go as far back as 3000 B.C, and some
historians are of the view that India may have been the original home
of textile printing. "The export of printed fabrics to China can be
dated to the fourth century B C, where they were much used and and
admired, and later, imitated." - ( Stuart Robinson: 'A History of
Printed Textiles'). The thirteenth-century Chinese traveller Chau
Ju-kua refers to Gujarat as a source of cotton fabrics of every color
and mentions that every year these were shipped to the Arab countries
for sale. " The discovery at Broach of a hoard of gold and silver
coins, mostly fourteenth-century and belonging to the Mamluk kingdom
of Egypt and Syria, suggests the maintenance of the advantageous
trading system recorded since Roman times whereby Indian textiles and
other renewable resources were traded for precious metals". - (John
Guy, 'Arts of India, 1550 - 1900') Also in the thirteenth century,
Marco Polo recorded the exports of Indian textiles to China and South
East Asia from the Masulipattinam (Andhra) and Coromandel (Tamil)
coasts in the "largest ships" then known. It is conjectured that the
initial development of this trade accompanied the spread of Indian
cultural influence in South-East Asia. John Guy in the "Arts of India,
1550 - 1900", points out that "textile patterns on sculptures of
Indian deities in central Java and elsewhere in the region very
probably reflect the prestige cloths in circulation in the late first
millennium". Chou Ta-kuan, the Chinese observer of life at the Khmer
capital of Angkor at the end of the thirteenth century, wrote that
"preference was given to the Indian weaving for its skill and
delicacy." Robyn Maxwell (in Textiles of Southeast Asia) observes that
elaborately decorated Indian textiles were the most highly valued and
notes: " Many spectacular Indian trade cloths, most now two or three
centuries old, have been treasured as heirlooms throughout Southest
Asia into the twentieth century, making only rare appearances at
important ceremonies or at times of crisis". Prestige trade textiles
such as Patola (double ikat silk in natural dyes) from Patan and
Ahmedabad, and decorative cottons in brilliant color-fast dyes from
Gujarat and the Coromandel coast were sought after by the Malaysian
royalty and wealthy traders of the Phillipines. The port city of Surat
(in Gujarat) emerged as the major distribution point for patola
destined for South-East Asia, and was frequented by the ships of the
Dutch East India Company. "The right to wear patola was widely claimed
as a prerogative of the Indonesian nobility , a practice encouraged by
the Dutch East India Company who distributed patola to local rulers as
part of the incentives offered to win local trading concessions and
co-operation." (- John Guy, 'Arts of India') Textiles also comprised a
significant portion of the Portuguese trade with India. These included
embroidered bedspreads and wall hangings possibly produced at Satgaon,
the old mercantile capital of Bengal, (near modern Calcutta). Quilts
of embroidered wild silk (tassar, munga or eri) on a cotton or jute
ground, combining European and Indian motifs were comissioned by the
Portuguese who had been attracted to Bengal, (as traders had been
since the early centuries AD), by the quality of the region's
textiles. J.H. van Linschoten, who was based in Goa as secretary to
the archbishop in the 1580s, observed that Cambay also produced silk
embroidered quilts. Textiles from Golconda and further south also
found favor in Europe and South East Asia. In the early 1600s, Dutch
and English trading settlements were established in Golconda
territory. Produced in the Golconda hinterland, kalamkaris - i.e.
finely painted cotton fabrics were bought or commissioned from the
port city of Masulipattinam. Buying at source enabled the Dutch and
English merchants to procure these textiles at rates thirty per cent
lower. 'Palampores' - painted fabrics based on the "tree of life"
motif that had become popular in the Mughal and Deccan courts were
also highly regarded. The attractiveness of fast dyed, multi-colored
Indian prints on cotton (i.e. chintz) in Europe led to the formation
of the London East India Company in 1600, followed by Dutch and French
counterparts. By the late 1600s, there was such overwhelming demand
for Indian chintz (whether from Chittagong in Bengal, or Patna or
Surat, that ultimately French and English wool and silk merchants
prevailed on their governments to ban the importation of these
imported cottons from India. The French ban came in 1686, while the
English followed in 1701. (Not all textile producing centres were
associated with ports. Several textile producing centres that catered
to the internal market, and to the overland international trade were
located in Northern and Central India, in the kingdoms of the Rajputs
and the Mughals, each with their own unique specialization. While
Kashmir was well known for its woollen weaves and embroidery, cities
like Benaras, Ujjain, Indore and Paithan (near Aurangabad) were known
for their fine silks and brocades. Rajasthan specialized in all manner
of patterned prints and dyed cloths. Fine collections of Indian
Textiles can be seen in the Calico Museum in Ahmedabad and in the
Crafts Museum in Delhi)


According to texts dating from the Buddhist era, woolen carpets were
known in India as early as 500 B.C. References to woven mats and floor
coverings are not infrequent in ancient and medieval Indian
literature. By the 16th century, carpet-weaving centres were
established in all the major courts of the sub-continent. However, it
is the output of the Mughal period that is now attracting
international attention. Dismissed by earlier scholars as mechanical
derivatives of Persian carpets, Indian carpets of the Mughal period
are slowly gaining recognition as the most technically accomplished
classical carpets of all times.

Daniel Walker, curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
has described pile-woven carpets of the Mughal era as "among the most
beautiful works of art ever created". He suggests that the large-scale
production from the imperial workshops of Akbar "set the tone for
subsequent carpet weaving in India and resulted in carpets whose
jewel-like beauty is still breathtaking". (Ref. Flowers Underfoot,
Indian Carpets of the Mughal Era)


Under the patronage of the various royal clans that ruled India,
particularly the Mughals, the Rajputs and the Deccani nawabs, the
decorative arts and crafts reached unprecedented heights. (These
traditions were continued, and even augmented by later regional nawabs
in Bengal, Mysore, Central India, Punjab, Awadh and Kashmir). European
traders did not fail to notice the relatively high quality of Indian
craftsmanship and proceeded to set up their own "karkhanas" i.e
factories, that rivalled the Mughal and Deccani establishments.
Hardwood furniture was a major product of Portuguese patronage,
usually richly decorated with inlaid woods and ivory. Catering to the
European markets, the items preserved the general forms of European
furniture, but were embellished with expensive inlays and carvings
that took their inspiration from Indian styles, particularly the
Mughal. Several production centres, principally in Sind, Gujarat and
the Deccan serviced this trade based in Goa. Mother-of-pearl was one
of the materials often used in the decoration of such items,
particularly small storage chests. These were produced principally in
Ahmedabad and Cambay, and later in Surat. Gujarati furniture with
mother-of-pearl inlay is recorded in the Baburnama (early 16th
century). The technique of setting mother-of-pearl in a black lac
ground, had been employed on wooden tomb-covers of the early
seventeenth century in Ahmedabad and Cambay, where a good proportion
of such work catered to the Turkish market, as evinced by examples
preserved in the Topkapi Saraye Museum of Istanbul. The craft of
papier mache, extensively promoted by the Mughals and later the
Rajputs, also found favor with 17th century European traders who
commissioned Kashmiri artists to produce for the European market.


Since the Indian sub-continent invariably carried a trade surplus,
precious and semi-precious stones, or gold and silver from the
international trade complemented internally mined supplies, leading
several visitors to India to note the enormous wealth of some of
India's most well known kingdoms. They would describe overflowing
treasuries, replete with a variety of precious metals and gems.
Bazaars exclusively devoted to trade in precious metals and stones
were not uncommon. As already mentioned, Tamil texts dating to the 2nd
Century AD refer to them, as do the chronicles of the 14th century
traveller Ibn Batuta of Tunisia, and Europeans who visited the
Vijaynagar, or Golconda kingdoms. Vladimir Zwalf (in Jewelry, 7000
years - Hugh Tait, Editor) observes: "The ostentatious display of
jewels at the Mughal court mentioned by all visitors to it is borne
out by contemporary miniature paintings and a large quantity of extant
pieces. Jewellery was worn by both men and women, and was also used in
the ornamentation of arms and armour, furniture and vessels. Gems
dominate Mughal jewellery. India was a major source and trading centre
for precious stones." Shah Jahan was particularly knowledgeable about
gems, and personally supervised some of the works executed in the
"karkhanas". Several fine examples of jewelry from the courts of the
Mughals and Rajputs, and other regional nawabs can be seen in the
collection in the National Museum, including selections from Benaras,
Bengal and Southern India.


Two quotes well summarize the development of metallurgical skills
prior to modern industrialization. Sir Thomas Holland, (chairman of
the Indian Industrial Commission of 1916-18) reported in 1908: "The
high quality of the native made iron, the early anticipation of the
process now employed in Europe for the manufacture of high-class
steels, and the artistic products in copper and bronze gave India a
prominent position in the metallurgical world." D.H. Buchanan wrote in
'Development of Capitalist Enterprise in India, 1934': "In India,
steel was used for weapons, for decorative purposes and for tools, and
remarkably high grade articles were produced. The old weapons are
second to none, and it is said that the famous damascus blades were
forged from steel imported from Hyderabad in India. The iron column,
called the Kutub pillar at Delhi, weighs over six tons and carries an
epitaph composed about 415 A.D. No one yet understands how so large a
forging could have been produced at that time." The craft of
Bidri-ware which originated in the Deccan, in Bidar and spread
northwards to centres like Lucknow, required not insignificant
metallurgical skills. The delicate inlay work required discipline and
expertise, and additionally, required the knowledge of extraction of
zinc (a primary constituent of the Bidri alloy). Unlike copper or
iron, zinc was not easily extractable from its ore. Consequently, in
Europe, the metal could not be used on an industrial scale until an
Englishman patented his zinc distillation process in 1738. However, in
India, zinc was first produced in the 1st C BC (The Rasvatnakar
mentions the distillation of Zinc in Zawar, Rajasthan, and excavations
by the M.S. University verify the existence of kilns used in the
distillation of the metal). In Rajasthan, it may have subsequently
been used in the production of brass. In any case, by the seventeeth
century, zinc was being absorbed in considerable quantity for the
production of Bidri-ware which had acquired widespread patronage.

Jaigarh (near Jaipur) was home to one of Asia's largest canon
factories. Cannons produced in the Rajput fort of Jaigarh (now on
display at the Jaigarh Fort) played a crucial role in the expansion
and consolidation of Mughal rule in India.


While much is known of the Moghuls, less is known of the regional
kingdoms who were equally cultured, and also made their mark in
manufactures and trade. Susan Stronge - (The Sultanates of the Deccan,
Arts of India, 1550 - 1900) writes: " With the exception of
architecture, little of the artistic production of the sultanates has
survived, and that which has is usually uninscribed and undocumented.
Nevertheless, the superb quality of some of the surviving artefacts
provides a tantalising glimpse of a world of courtly splendour and
cultural refinement, others indicating traditions which, though less
elevated, are lively and appealing." Like their Mughal counterparts,
the Deccani Nawabs were great patrons of the arts and music, and in
portraitures are often depicted with fine jewellery and fine silks.
What is of particular interest today is the secular administration of
these sultanates. In their patronage of Ragamala paintings, the
Deccani nawabs shared the tastes of the Rajputs, and later rulers of
the Punjab hills and Punjab plains. Based on the romantic folk-lore of
popular traditions, the ragamala painting became a highly
sophisticated art form - its lyrical and expressive style appealing to
Hindhu, Muslim and Sikh patrons alike. Asad Beg, who chronicled the
court of Bijapur's Ibrahim Adil Shah II (1586-1627), mentions that
Adil Shah spoke Marathi and his Kitab-i-Nauras, a collection of songs
in Deccani Urdu were set to different ragas, some paying homage to
Muslim saints, others recalling the Hindhu deities Saraswati and
Ganesha. According to Asad Beg, under Ibrahim Shah, Hindhus had access
to positions of political importance and economic power. Like Akbar,
one of his most trusted officials was Antu Pandit. Another Hindhu,
Ramji, was head of the Bijapuri guild ofjewellers and court adviser on
matters of jewellery purchase and selection. And like in the
'karkhanas' of Akbar, skilled Hindhu craftsmen, were just as likely to
find employment as skilled Muslims. Both courts strived towards
perfection in their manufactures, and could not afford religious


Although several nations that traded in the Indian Ocean had merchant
ships, India seems to have been the first country of the Indian Ocean
to possess real battle-fleets. Reports Auguste Toussaint in 'History
of the Indian Ocean', "The Mauryan emperor Chandragupta, who ruled
from 321 to 297 B.C had even at that time, an actual Board of
Admiralty, with a Superintendent of Ships at its head." References to
it can be found in Kautilya's Arthasastra. From their voyages of
conquest and trade, we can infer that although much later, the
Pallavas, Pandyas and Cholas of South India must also have had an
efficient naval organization. Prior to colonial rule, the most
significant Navy in the Indian Ocean, was that of the Mughals. At its
peak, during the reign of Akbar, it had over 3000 vessels, and was
concentrated in the Bay of Bengal, although a good proportion of the
fleet was also based in Gujarat. Described in the Ayeen-i-Akbari
(Chronicle of the Reign of Akbar), the Navy controlled shipbuilding,
conducted naval surveys, collected customs duties and ensured adequate
crew recruitments. During Aurangzeb's reign, the Mughal fleet
functioned only in the Bay of Bengal, and was heavily used against
European traders (particularly the Portuguese) who challenged the
Mughal authority and tried to avoid customs payments. In the Bay of
Bengal, the kingdom of Assam had its own fleets, while the Marathas
had theirs on the West coast. In this period, the trade within Asia
was still largely conducted by Asians. The merchants of Surat, who
relied upon ships built by the Wadias of Bombay (who had not taken
long to copy prevailing European designs) were particularly rich - one
of them Virji Vora (who died in the beginning of the 18th century)
left a fortune of 22 million gold francs. "According to certain
travellers, Surat was then the most beautiful city of India. One small
detail will give an idea of the unparalleled luxury that prevailed
there: certain streets were paved with porcelain. Francois Martin in
his Memoires calls it 'a real Babylon'.'' - (Auguste Toussaint in
'History of the Indian Ocean'.)


However, such prosperity was not to last long. In that same period, as
the revenues to the Mughals from the overland trade dwindled due to
heightened competition from the East India Company (which undercut
prices for Indian exports offered by the Ottomans of Turkey), the
Mughal state after Aurangzeb crumbled, and the strength of the Indian
Navy diminished as a consequence. (Although the sea route around the
African Cape was much longer than the overland route, the indirect
profits from the African slave trade that accrued to the East India
Company allowed it to out-compete the Ottomans and thus draw away
badly needed revenues from the Mughal treasury). Although the kingdoms
of Oudh and Bengal thrived for a while, by 1721 the East India Company
had been prohibited from importing Indian textiles into Europe. This
was a major economic blow for the entire sub-continent; in particular,
the Bengal Nawabs, who were unable to invest sufficiently in
maintaining an adequate Navy. At the same time, the East India Company
had turned its attention to the contraband Opium Trade with China,
which required military cover, for which contingents of the British
Royal Navy were sent to the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea,
enhancing British military power in the Bay of Bengal. The rapid
depletion of the Mughal treasuries, thus started a chain reaction.
Unable to supervise the vast regions under its authority, the Mughal
state disintegrated. Craftspeople employed in the Mughal 'karkhanas'
sought patronage from the regional courts of Awadh and Bengal, or
Rajputana and Punjab, or the Marathas of Central India, all of whom
experienced a short-lived, but often brilliant cultural renaissance.
Mughal and Hindhu (or Sikh) styles were fused in the regions,
producing several unique and syncretic traditions. However, after the
textile bans and inability to enforce customs collections, the smaller
Indian states simply lacked the economic and military means to resist
the onslaught of the now richer and more poweful East India Company.
The defeat at Plassey in 1757 was thus a monumental turning point in
history. A nation that had long enjoyed a trade surplus from its
manufactures was soon to be reduced to penury. R. Mukerji describes
this process in 'The Rise and Fall of the East India Company', noting
that the defeat of the Moghuls and the political ascendance of the
East India Company was accompanied by a decline of the Indian
mercantile bourgeoisie. The great merchants of India, who had earlier
derived protection from the Mughals, and had benefited from the naval
patrols of Akbar and Aurangzeb, were by the end of the eighteenth
century, practically extinguished in Bengal and elsewhere. Although it
took another century for the conquest of India to be consolidated, and
although a third of India escaped direct colonial rule, a long era had
come to a close. The crafts of that era were either to be obliterated,
or survive precariously. Remunerated at a much lower rate, they were
unlikely to gain the prestige and respect they once enjoyed. It is
important to note this difference between the British colonizers and
earlier conquerers who made India their home. Whereas earlier
conquerers had taken full advantage of India's manufacturing skills
and either steered them in different directions, or attempted to
augment and refine them, for the British, India's manufacturing
strengths were unnecessary competition, and were best snuffed out, or
left to languish . Those who attempt to treat the British as no
different from India's previous Islamic rulers do great injustice to
this ineffaceable reality. Several of India's previous rulers came as
foriegners - as invaders and conquerers - but they lived and died in
India. Consequently, the monuments they built, the artefacts they
commissioned, the culture that they sponsored - all of it, is now the
legacy of the people of the sub-continent. The riches that they
acquired were recycled in the same land, but what the British took
away may never be returned. Even in its faded glory, India's Islamic
legacy has more authenticity than colonial rule. As Indians look to
the future, they may gain from this history a justifiable pride in the
dedicated pursuit of excellence that was practised by India's
craftspeople. They can take note of the technological discoveries and
adaptations that took place in an older era, and become inspired to
contribute - even in some small way, towards the betterment of a land
that is waiting to find its due place in the world once more.

(For an abstract and thematic outline of this article, click here.)


Asia's Role in World Trade: The Department of History at the
University of Auckland provides an interesting set of links relating
to the theme: Asia as the Hub of World Trade

Particularly interesting are the links to Asian-based world economy
1400-1800: A horizontally integrative macrohistory', and 'Asia Comes
Full Circles in a Round World' by Andre Gunder Frank (University of

In a Review Essay of Asia in Western and World History. A Guide for
Teaching (Edited by Ainslie T. Embree and Carol Gluck), Andre Gunder
Frank remarks: The "Theme of Asia in World History" is really broached
only by Lynda Shaffer. She does so mostly by documenting the
originating and pivotal role of India and its diffusion of mathematics
and science, religion and art, crops and technology both eastward to
China and westward to Europe. Thereby she seeks to relate "the rise of
the West to ... antecedents in other parts of the world" and to show
how artificially Eurocentric it is to "sever the final ocean-crossing
episode from its larger global history"


Technological discoveries and applications in India

The earliest evidence of technological progress in the Indian
subcontinent is to be found in the remains of the Harappan
civilization (4000-3000 BC). Archaeological remains point to the
existence of well-planned urban centres that boasted of private and
public dwellings laid out in orderly fashion along with roads and
drainage systems complementing them. The drainage systems were
particularly remarkable for the times since they were built
underground and were constructed in a manner to allow for regular
cleaning. Smaller drains from private homes connected to the larger
public drains.

Larger private dwellings were invariably multi-storied and all homes
were constructed from standardized fired bricks and provided for
separate cooking areas and toilets. Storage facilities for grain and
goods for trade were built as were public baths and other buildings
intended for various public functions.

Urban centres were often planned near riverine or sea-ports. Accurate
weights and measures were in use and ports such as Lothal were
developed as export centres of early manufactured products from
smelted copper and bronze. Kilns for smelting copper ingots and
casting tools were in existence as were metal tools such as curved or
circular saws, pierced needles and most significantly, bronze drills
with twisted grooves. The drill enabled the production of items with
unparalleled precision for the times and could be regarded as an
ancient precursor of the modern machine tool.

There is also evidence of planned irrigation systems and it appears
that fire and flood control measures to protect farms and villages
were also in place. Artisans made use of the wheel and clay pottery
was decorated in a variety of colors and designs. Cotton was grown and
used to produce textiles.

Urban centres in the Harappan region traded with each other as well as
with counterparts in Babylon, the Persian Gulf, Egypt and possibly
the Mediteranean. The span of the Harappan civilization was quite
extensive, and included much of modern Sindh, Gujarat, Rajasthan,
Haryana, Punjab and Western UP.

But prior to it's disappearance, there is also evidence of
considerable social decay and disintegration. Excavations from the
later phases of the Harappan civilization suggest that population
pressures led to greater anarchy in building construction. Urban
dwellings became smaller and settlements became more haphazard
indicating a breakdown of social mores and structures that promoted
urban regulations and enforced construction codes.

Social Conditions and Technological Progress

It is quite possible that the decline in civil society extended to
other areas such as agricultural planning and maintenance of
irrigations systems making the civilization more vulnerable to natural
disasters such droughts, floods, fires or earthquakes - thus
contributing to the eventual extinction of that vibrant civilization.
This suggests that technological progress cannot be divorced from
social conditions that may either encourage the progress of technology
or conversely cause civilizations that may be (in relative terms)
quite advanced to stagnate and even decline.

For instance, 3000 years after Harappa, we find anecdotal evidence of
impressive urban settlements constructed during the Mauryan period.
Greek travellers have left behind admiring descriptions of Patliputra
- the Mauryan capital. But social strife brought a precipitous end to
the grand civilization. The growth of a parasitic, exploitative and
socially oppressive elite led to massive social upheavals. In the
course of the civil wars, fires and looting destroyed virtually all of
the wood-based dwellings including grand palaces and public buildings.

Thus, an entire tradition of wood-based urban construction - (which
may have taken several centuries to develop) was destroyed. But it
also led to a greater emphasis on the use of more lasting construction
materials. The very social conditions that destroyed technological
progress in one direction gave birth to technological progress in
another. Sculptural finds from the Mauryan period indicate that
Mauryan sculptors of that time had achieved a high degree of
proficiency in working with stone. They must have had tools and
implements that enabled them to create smoothly modelled and highly
polished representations of human and animal figures. Later
civilizations in India employed these skills not only for the purposes
of sculpting but for creating entire monuments constructed from a
variety of hard building materials. For instance, various methods for
preparing cements were developed, and by the 7th century, cement of
highly durable quality came into use in the construction of important
monuments that survive to this day.

The Impetus for Metallurgy

Monumental architecture required considerable advances in the
technology of lifting, loading and transportation of construction
materials, building construction ramps, scaffolding, and related tools
and implements. As in ancient Egypt or Babylon, appropriate techniques
also had to be developed and implemented in India. But more
importantly, stone-based construction presupposes the existence of
hard metal based tools and implements for cutting and shaping stone.
The discovery of iron thus played an essential role in the development
of monumental architecture in India which may have in turn given a
further impetus to the development of metallurgical skills.

As early as the 4th C. BC, Kautilya's Arthashastra had a section
outlining the processes for metal extraction and alloying. Later
Sanskrit texts talk about assessing metal purity and describe
techniques for achieving metal purity. Various alloying techniques
were in use and some may have had their origin in the Harappan or
Vedic periods. (For instance, there are references in the Vedic
literature that suggest that copper vessels were coated with tin so as
to prevent milk from going sour.)

A combination of scholarly investigation and broad dissemination of
practical techniques propelled the development of metallurgical
skills. The fifth century Iron Pillar of Delhi is a remarkable example
of those skills. Standing over 23 feet high it consists of a single
piece of iron and has weathered over 1500 monsoons without showing any
signs of rust. The pillar is made of wrought iron with an iron content
of 99.72 % and appears to have been protected from rust by the
application of a thin coating of manganese dioxide.

By the 12th century, construction engineers were using iron girders
and beams on a scale unknown in any other part of the world. The most
significant use of iron beams was in the temples of Puri and Konarak.
The Puri temple contains 239 iron beams and one of the beams in
Konarak is 35 feet long. All are 99.64 percent iron and were produced
in a similiar manner to the Delhi iron pillar.

During the middle ages, India acquired a reputation for producing very
high quality steel and was also able to extract zinc from it's ore by
the 14th century. Bidari (an alloy of copper, lead and tin developed
in the Deccan) was also extensively used.

Unsurprisingly, developments in metallurgy also had their impact on
artillery production. According to A. Rahman (Science in Medieval
India), by the 16th century, the heaviest guns in the world were being
cast in India and a variety of weapons were being manufactured in the
subcontinent. The Jaigarh cannon factory was one of India's best and
before the crucial battle of 1857, the Jaipur Rajputs laid claim to
owning Asia's largest cannon. Yet, none of the Rajput cannons were
ever used to confront the British who succeeded in conquering the
sub-continent without ever having to fight against the country's best
equipped armies, thus demonstrating that technological progress is not
an end in itself.

Social Needs and Technological Applications

More often than not, social needs (as arising from geographic,
climactic or living conditions) have been the primary impetus for
technological progress in society. The long dry months that most
regions of India had to deal with led to numerous innovations in
water-management techniques. Irrigation canals, wells of different
types, storage tanks and a variety of water-harvesting techniques were
developed throughout the sub-continent. The Harappans were not alone
in creating water-management solutions. Irrigation works of enormous
size were undertaken time and time again. The reservoirs at Girnar in
Kathiawar (built in the 3rd C. BC) had an embankment over 100 ft thick
at the base. The artificial lake at Bhojpur (near Bhopal) commisioned
by Raja Bhoj in the 11th C covered 250 sq. miles. In the South, also
in the 11th C., an artificial lake fed by the Kaveri river had a
16-mile long embankment with stone sluices and irrigation channels.
Rajput kings built artificial lakes throughout the desert state of
Rajasthan, but irrigation schemes were essential to agricultural
prosperity even in Kashmir, Bengal and the delta regions of the South.

The need for accurate prediction of the monsoons spurred developments
in astronomy while the intense heat of the summer led to innovations
in architecture. In Rajasthan and Gujarat step-wells were built deep
into the ground - sometimes descending as much as a hundred feet and
large scale observatories were built in Benaras, Mathura and Ujjain to
facilitate advances in the astronomical sciences. Bengal became known
for it's fine muslins that were light and airy to wear in the warm and
humid climate of the state. Techniques for pickling and preserving
fruits, vegetables, fish and meats were developed throughout the
country to prevent or delay spoilage. Manually operated cooling
devices were also invented. The Arthashatra mentions the variyantra
(probably a revolving water spray for cooling the air). Technology
thus arose in response to compelling material needs.

Scientific Rationalism and Technological Efficacy

But technological progress also requires a favorable social milieu. A
foundation of scientific knowledge, rational thinking and practical
experimentation can be essential to the process of making
technological discoveries (although the application of already known
technologies can occur more easily). As mentioned in the essay:
Development of Philosophical Thought and Scientific Method in Ancient
India numerous technological inventions occurred in parallel with
developments in rational philosophy and advances in mathematics and
natural sciences.

This is not to say that Indian society was entirely rational. In all
ancient societies (and even modern ones), superstitions, religious
beliefs, reliance on astrology, numerology or the advice of 'seers',
palmists and fortune-tellers have impinged on the scientific process
and consequently hindered the progress of technology. In the
civilizations of ancient Egypt, Babylon and India - we see numerous
instances of scientifically accurate statements and practical truths
mixed up with religious myths and popular superstitions. This was
especially true in the science of medicine. Genuine cures were listed
with unscientific practices without clear distinction. But during the
rational period in India the emphasis on the scientific method led to
a much greater level of veracity with respect to the efficacy of
different medicines and medical procedures.

The more accurately the Indian medical practitioner was able to
observe reality, understand bodily functions and test the efficacy of
popular medical techniques, the more successful were the prescribed
cures. Dissection of corpses and careful monitoring of different
diseases was an important component in the study and practice of
medicine. With greater success in treatment came greater confidence
and allowed medical practitioners to conduct surgical procedures using
a variety of surgical tools - albeit primitive in comparison to modern
surgical equipment.

Procedures for inducing unconsciousness or numbing body parts that
were to be operated on were required and developed. Tools for
excision, incision, puncturing, probing, organ or part extraction,
fluid drainage, bloodletting, suturing and cauterization were<
ICSSR burns thousands of PhD dissertations <!--emo&:thumbdown--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='thumbsdownsmileyanim.gif' /><!--endemo-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->NEW DELHI: The Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) is on a destruction spree. From its collection of thousands of PhD dissertations collected from all over the country, barely 800 have escaped destruction. A large number were burnt and the remaining are in an advanced state of decay in ICSSR's godown.

What's the rationale behind such largescale destruction? The Council's National Social Science Documentation Centre (NASSDOC) has been transformed and moved to an ultra-modern building which presumably had no space for these works.

But shockingly, ICSSR's alibi that every piece of written word would be put on microfilm or digitised was not followed in this case.

It is a great pity when the so called scholars don't recognize the importance of good dissertations!!
> It is a great pity when the so called scholars don't recognize the importance of good dissertations!!

Yatha Prajaa Tathaa Raja ....

You will be better servred if you keep up with "Hindus/India didnot invent a Plane in last 5000 years" , "Jai Secular Indian Army" and "Secular Nationalism" !!

What a "Secular sh1t!" ...
Few weeks back happen to see a documentary on "VijayNagar & Raj Raja"

fabulous is the word came to my mind again and again. ( Though there was a pinch of secualrism in it too!! )

Can some learned History watcher describe abt that era .

Documentary essential was abt how the temples were made and how elephants were used to tow huge stones to the sight.
Nehru flawed, not bigoted
By Chandan Mitra

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->He towered over all leaders of modern India, and even as certain archaic economic ideas of Mahatma Gandhi steadily lost relevance, Nehru's beliefs continued to be regarded as inviolable. Indira Gandhi discarded many liberal facets of her father's ideas, but none dared question the fundamentals of the Nehruvian ideal. The few that did remained on the fringe: Having failed to combat him, Communists adopted him, while the Jana Sangh on the right never gained sufficient acceptability to be considered mainstream.

Today, Nehru is no longer sacrosanct. His economic philosophy is in ruins. The Sindri fertiliser factory, at whose inauguration he coined the famous phrase "temples of modern India" has closed and the false gods of socialism are starving within many such shrines.

External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh may continue to recommend a crash course in Nehruana for IFS officials, but his prospective students are only likely to snigger at the thought. Non-alignment has been given a decent enough burial beneath the Berlin Wall rubble and the movement India's first Prime Minister helped found at Bandung has been reduced to a talking shop.

Nehru's neighbourhood policy had collapsed within his lifetime and many say it was the heartbreak caused by China that heralded his demise. He was forced to reverse his own Kashmir policy in 1953, soon after Jana Sangh founder Shyama Prasad Mookerjee died in Sheikh Abdullah's prison. Shortly thereafter the Sheikh himself became a sarkari mehmaan. It is said that on the eve of his death, Nehru wanted to reach out to Pakistani dictator Ayub Khan to propose a bizarre, shared sovereignty scheme for Kashmir using the Sheikh as mediator.
Ramlila may become part of world heritage
By Mandira Nayar

NEW DELHI, AUG. 18. With the Central Department of Culture submitting a proposal nominating the legend of Ram to UNESCO's Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Ramlila might soon become part of world heritage. While this ancient tradition might move beyond Asian shores, scholars are concerned that officials in the Department of Culture are not venturing further than Ram's birthplace.

"The proposal needs to be submitted to UNESCO by September 30. There are many different kinds of Ramlilas, but the proposal will concentrate on Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas and all its variants. The purity of this tradition is being diluted and it is becoming more spectator-oriented due to globalisation. The objective is to document this tradition. Most of the documentation will take place in Uttar Pradesh since the Government is already organising an event there,'' says an official.

While officials insist that there is nothing remotely saffron about the choice of venue or Ram, scholars differ.

"I can't understand why they chose to nominate Ramlila and why only document it in and around Ayodhya. There are so many versions of Ramlila across the country; every region has its own flavour. So why decide to isolate this one? The tradition down South is completely different from that in the North; they have Ravana as their hero. But what is strange is that the Government has nominated this when there are so many other forms of art which are being lost. Are they worried about their Hindu vote?'' asks <b>Shabnam Hashmi of Act Now for Communal Harmony and Democracy (ANHAD). </b>
For their part, officials maintain that there is no hidden political or saffron agenda behind the proposal, only the will to preserve this ancient tradition that keeps alive the story of the Epic.

"It is really sad that people think that Ram is being associated with being saffron. He is the last person who should be thought like that. There is nothing ideological about this nomination. It is the last year of the Masterpieces of Intangible Heritage and the idea was to nominate an art form that was pan Indian,'' asserts an official.

The "colour" of the proposal apart, scholars claim that documenting the Ramlila in only one State is limiting the aspect of the story.

"There is no doubt that Ramcharitmanas is one of the most widely read book in the world. But there is a fear of it going extinct, as over the years Ramlila has shifted from being a participative event to a more a sophisticated one. The Ramanaya as a performance, in which the whole community was involved and participated, has reduced. Earlier we used to stage the performance in Awadhi, but since the electronic revolution people have stopped understanding it and we have had to shift to Hindi. While it is a good move to protect Ram Leela, it is important to include it in all its forms. It is not a prerogative of only one State,'' reasons Shoba Deepak Singh, Vice-Chairperson of Shriram Bharitya Kala Kendra.

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